Author Topic: Box Launcher Reloads  (Read 2816 times)

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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Box Launcher Reloads
« on: July 18, 2017, 05:12:02 PM »
I'm working on the weapon recharge code at the moment and I have run into an issue with reloading box launchers at maintenance facilities.

In VB6, a ship with box launchers has to reload in a hangar bay or at maintenance facilities that are of sufficient size to maintain the ship. However, the maintenance rules have changed in C# Aurora so that the maintenance facilities have to be large enough for all the ships in the same location, or they only be able to provide partial maintenance. This adds a lot of complexities to reloading box launchers.

For example, if multiple ships are reloading at the same location for consistency I should check the facilities are large enough to handle them all. If not, the reload should slow down in proportion. However, that reload could then affect the ability of those maintenance facilities to carry out their normal job of maintenance during the construction phase, as they were using capacity to reload (potentially different) ships - although perhaps not for the whole increment.

Rather than expect the players to try to handle that complexity, I am leaning toward changing the mechanics for reloading box launchers. I have two options at the moment:

1) Reloading box launchers only happens during the maintenance section of the construction phase. This reduces complexity as everything happens at once, so calculating total capacity is straightforward. Also, I am probably going to make the construction phase happen every day, rather than every five days, so this isn't as onerous as it sounds.

2) Remove the ability of box launchers to reload at maintenance facilities, so they can only be reloaded in hangars. This is also a lot easier than it sounds with the introduction of commercial hangars, allowing sizeable deep space bases or support ships. With box launchers available from the start in C# Aurora, this provides a counter-balancing logistical limitation for larger, box launcher-armed ships. This is my preferred option at the moment unless there is a strong argument to the contrary.
 

Sappersquid

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2017, 06:52:00 PM »
I would prefer the option to use the maintenance facilities, so that having capital ships with what are now Starfire style XO racks is viable.   Now that the box launchers are vulnerable, I don't think you need added checks and balances.  Loading XO racks isn't that complicated relative to full blown maintenance either, so you could just have the normal rate apply and skip the math for proportional reload rates. 
 

Offline ardem

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2017, 08:59:51 PM »
Say I make a 60KTon Battleship with box launchers, that is a huge size hangar. Take old soviet ships they all have box launchers, so it partially make sense for that style of vessel to be created. I do not see box launchers as maintenance issue, its no different then loading magazines for a large ship hold. You should be able to load this ships as easily as loading magazine cargo.

I do not normally disagree with you Steve but I think your wrong on this one. I see this more as a cargo issue, how do you load missiles into magazines is that during maintenance?
 
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Offline Barkhorn

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2017, 09:59:33 PM »
How about making missile transfers and box launcher reloads use cargo loading mechanics?  That seems a little more realistic; ships in real life with Vertical Launch Systems (the real life equivalent for box launchers) don't have to visit a drydock to be reloaded.  The reloading equipment is basically just a crane.

This would be more realistic for carriers too; improved cargo handling equipment modules would basically simulate the dollies and trams they use on real aircraft carriers to haul bombs and missiles from the magazines to the aircraft.
 
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Offline alex_brunius

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2017, 03:09:28 AM »
Are not Box launchers supposed to be harder to reload?

If cargo loading can be used what prevents me from just building a separate magazine ship and reload from it in deep space without any need for hangars?
 

Offline Zincat

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2017, 03:36:02 AM »
Are not Box launchers supposed to be harder to reload?

If cargo loading can be used what prevents me from just building a separate magazine ship and reload from it in deep space without any need for hangars?

This. Box launchers are supposed to be harder to reload. Also, box launchers NEED to be harder to reload, for balance reason. If not, the already overwhelming advantage of box launchers at starting tech level will get even higher.

With the fact that early in the game box launchers can almost completely ignore point defense, there is little reason to build any other weapon system tactically. Sure, you need a strong economy to feed box launchers. But tactically, box launcher ships are always better. You just need to bring enough of them and you can destroy the opponent without any possible defense on his part.

If box launchers were reloaded like cargo, it would be insane. The major disadvantage of box launchers would disappear. Then it would be truly unbalanced.

In case it was not apparent, I am in favor of option 2). You want a box launcher large warship? Make an hangar that can contain said ship.


EDIT:
And better explain before the "but it is realistic that box launchers are easy to reload" argument gets whipped out. This is a game. So it NEEDS balance, or else there's no point.

Want to have your perfectly realistic box launchers that reload in no time? Fine, give me infinite range railguns, as it should be, then we can talk about it. Once I can use my railguns to target your planet from the other side of the system, AS IT SHOULD BE, then you can have your perfectly realistic box launchers.

The bottom line is, in a game there need to be compromises so that the game is actually fun to play. If you remove all the limitations and make a weapon system OVERWHELMINGLY more useful than any other, what's the point of playing?
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 03:41:57 AM by Zincat »
 

Offline SpikeTheHobbitMage

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2017, 03:41:42 AM »
IRL box launchers get loaded in exactly that way, it just takes longer than a magazine fed system.  On that note, cargo transfers should take time during which the transferring ships can't move or fire, with the obvious exception that a ship inside a hangar doesn't limit the carrier.  Launching and landing should take time as well.

If putting time limits on cargo transfers isn't feasible, requiring box launchers to reload inside a hangar is also acceptable.  Reloading in a hangar should be available in any case, and should be faster than a cargo transfer but slower than a magazine feed.

Speaking of carriers, VB6 Aurora has a nasty bug when putting a carrier inside a hangar:  Any fighters inside the carrier get deleted.  I hope this gets fixed in C#.

EDIT:
@Zincat  A box launcher that can be reloaded in no time isn't realistic, just like a railgun that can accurately hit a target on the other side of the system without guided munitions isn't realistic.
« Last Edit: July 19, 2017, 03:59:23 AM by SpikeTheHobbitMage »
 
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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2017, 04:09:49 AM »
Bear in mind there is a difference between launcher cycle time and missile reload time. For a 'normal' missile ship, as soon as the launcher recycles, it can load another missile from the magazine. However, missiles are loaded into the magazine in a different operation. For box launchers in VB6, the launchers can be loaded with missiles quickly. It is the recycle of the launcher that takes a long time. This can seen as preparing the launcher for firing.

In C# Aurora, loading ordnance will take time rather than be done instantly (a similar change to refuelling). This will be true for both box launchers and magazines. As 'normal' missile ships will have increased magazine reload times, it makes sense to further limit box launchers to maintain balance. In fact, maybe rather than simply recycling launchers in a hangar, box launchers should reload there as well. This wouldn't be a problem for fighters or FACs. For larger warships, a dedicated facility would be required, probably using commercial hangars and commercial magazines (Space Dock!). Below is an excerpt from the U.S. Naval Institute Blog regarding the replenishment of current VLS.

https://blog.usni.org/posts/2015/07/30/vls-at-sea-reloading

"Unfortunately, reloading VLS at-sea isn’t incorporated into the Navy’s logistical DNA in the same way refueling is. Reloading VLS cells in today’s status quo demands an industrially robust port facility with heavy equipment, trained rigging crews, and a large munitions storage facility. It is not uncommon to damage equipment, and people have been seriously injured during VLS loading and unloading evolutions. Experts at the Naval Weapons Stations and some Naval Support Facilities use cranes to unload spent canisters, move gas management system equipment, and place loaded canisters in cells. "
 
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Offline Bughunter

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2017, 04:13:39 AM »
Agree with 2, I'm willing to imagine the TN drive field of the missile somehow requires it to be loaded inside a hangar to work from a box launcher.
 

Offline Tree

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2017, 04:21:35 AM »
You should leave both in. Big ships can only be reloaded at (planetary?) maintenance facilities, and fighters only in hangars. I don't know about FACs. Both? Hangars only?

If you force me to use hangars, I'll just build a single one capable of taking one of my big warship (and on a civilian shipyard, since we're getting both civilian hangars and magazines), and instead of 5 hours of reload for all the ships' size 4 box launchers at maintenance facilities, it'll only take 30 minutes for each ship, less if the Fighter Ops bonus is fixed and works on bigger ships. And all that for just a few more clicks.
And if I have to reload my big ships with box launchers in hangars only, I might aswell tractor the hangar closer to the action and reload there and get back to in the fight faster, instead of having to send the ships back to a planet with both the missiles and enough maintenance facilities. Won't even be more logistically involved since I already always have tankers and colliers anyway, they'll just take care of the hangars instead of other ships, and this time the colliers will be massive civilian ships carrying a smegload of missiles for all the box launchers.
I won't ever even use regular launchers anymore and enjoy massive alpha strikes, this'll be fantastic.
 
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Offline Zincat

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2017, 04:55:40 AM »
EDIT:
@Zincat  A box launcher that can be reloaded in no time isn't realistic, just like a railgun that can accurately hit a target on the other side of the system without guided munitions isn't realistic.

I respectfully disagree. I am not talking of hitting moving targets. I am talking of large, maybe kilometers large immobile planetary structures like factories and mines. In space, where there is no attrition nor any other obstacle, it is just a matter of calculating trajectory and gravity fields. Sure, a complex task, but possible even at our tech level, and even more so in a futuristic environment. Maybe not 100% of hits would land, but so what? Even if your cities gets turned into rubble, it's no skin off my back as long as your economy gets wrecked and I eventually win.

At any rate, I don't want to derail the discussion. It was just an example to point out that Aurora is not 100% realistic already and that some compromise is needed for gameplay. It would be wrong to have just one type of weapon system exceedingly efficient, it would make the game boring. As it is, because of the 5-seconds ticks and how point defense works in the game, box launchers are extremely efficient already, especially in the early game when there's no effective point defense to be had.

Anyway, as Steve posted above, reloading box launchers even in real life is not such an easy thing as some people seem to think. In regards to the game, I would be fine with the large deep space installations with hangars required to reload them. It is an acceptable solution because it introduces a layer of logistical complexity. An extra "station" that needs to be positioned correctly, or to be towed in place, and that needs to be defended.
Such a compromise would be fine I think, which is why I would prefer the hangar-required-to-reload option.
 
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Offline TCD

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2017, 09:01:47 AM »
I instinctively like option 2 best, as it seems very neat and a nice balance tweak as well. But I can see the micro-management getting annoying if you have to individually load and unload a fleet of frigates into your starbase commercial hangar for reloading, it would be nice if that could be abstracted somehow, which would seem to favour option 1 again.

You should leave both in. Big ships can only be reloaded at (planetary?) maintenance facilities, and fighters only in hangars. I don't know about FACs. Both? Hangars only?
I'm very much against arbitrary distinctions between fighters and larger ships. Much more satisfying to come up with rules that scale.

If you force me to use hangars, I'll just build a single one capable of taking one of my big warship (and on a civilian shipyard, since we're getting both civilian hangars and magazines), and instead of 5 hours of reload for all the ships' size 4 box launchers at maintenance facilities, it'll only take 30 minutes for each ship, less if the Fighter Ops bonus is fixed and works on bigger ships. And all that for just a few more clicks.
And if I have to reload my big ships with box launchers in hangars only, I might aswell tractor the hangar closer to the action and reload there and get back to in the fight faster, instead of having to send the ships back to a planet with both the missiles and enough maintenance facilities. Won't even be more logistically involved since I already always have tankers and colliers anyway, they'll just take care of the hangars instead of other ships, and this time the colliers will be massive civilian ships carrying a smegload of missiles for all the box launchers.
I won't ever even use regular launchers anymore and enjoy massive alpha strikes, this'll be fantastic.
Not to rain on your parade, but given the civilian hangar inefficiency isn't that going to be a massive ship to try and tug around the galaxy? And presumably pretty slow as well. Not to mention the size of civilian jump engine you'll need.

But If you're talking about building/moving a starbase into poisition to support a legthy military campaign, then I think that's kind of the idea behind these changes?
 
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Offline Tree

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2017, 10:45:22 AM »
Not to rain on your parade, but given the civilian hangar inefficiency isn't that going to be a massive ship to try and tug around the galaxy? And presumably pretty slow as well. Not to mention the size of civilian jump engine you'll need.
Doesn't matter, civilian shipyards are cheap and easy to get big and I need something to spend all these minerals on anyway. Won't even need to be that massive, just hangars for one ship, and magazines for one reload. And the warships themselves don't need to be huge in the first place.
And not for a lengthy campaign, but for a battle. Every battle.
 

Offline Barkhorn

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2017, 11:58:23 AM »
This. Box launchers are supposed to be harder to reload. Also, box launchers NEED to be harder to reload, for balance reason. If not, the already overwhelming advantage of box launchers at starting tech level will get even higher.

With the fact that early in the game box launchers can almost completely ignore point defense, there is little reason to build any other weapon system tactically. Sure, you need a strong economy to feed box launchers. But tactically, box launcher ships are always better. You just need to bring enough of them and you can destroy the opponent without any possible defense on his part.

If box launchers were reloaded like cargo, it would be insane. The major disadvantage of box launchers would disappear. Then it would be truly unbalanced.

In case it was not apparent, I am in favor of option 2). You want a box launcher large warship? Make an hangar that can contain said ship.


EDIT:
And better explain before the "but it is realistic that box launchers are easy to reload" argument gets whipped out. This is a game. So it NEEDS balance, or else there's no point.

Want to have your perfectly realistic box launchers that reload in no time? Fine, give me infinite range railguns, as it should be, then we can talk about it. Once I can use my railguns to target your planet from the other side of the system, AS IT SHOULD BE, then you can have your perfectly realistic box launchers.

The bottom line is, in a game there need to be compromises so that the game is actually fun to play. If you remove all the limitations and make a weapon system OVERWHELMINGLY more useful than any other, what's the point of playing?
Just make box launchers unable to load from a magazine.  They can only be loaded from a mothership or population.
 

Offline DuraniumCowboy

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Re: Box Launcher Reloads
« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2017, 05:28:10 PM »
I think now that box launchers are vulnerable, they need a lot less nerfing than some people may think.  They are basically starfire style XO racks now.  A ship with only box launchers will either have to shoot its missiles at the start of an engagement or risk having an early catastrophe.  With that being said, I am a fan of the idea of just using the cargo handling rate for planetary reloads, or something derived from that.  It's something that can be kept simple without too much impact.
 

 

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